How to Check and Change Your Caravan Tyres
There are a host of different types of caravan, each featuring tyres of varying heights, thicknesses and specifications. Most touring caravans or trailers have tyres more suited to vans than cars, which can leave you unsure about exactly how you should approach changing them. This is an especially important skill considering a caravan puncture can be much more frustrating to deal with than a conventional car one.
Established in 1956, our Allens Caravans team have extensive experience handling caravans of all shapes and sizes, from the static caravans on our country-wide residential parks to the touring caravans that grace our hire and touring parks every year.
Using this knowledge, we have put together a quick guide on when and how to change a wheel on a caravan, helping you prepare for the inevitable eventuality. Whatever your caravan tyre change experience, by the end of this guide you should be fully prepared get your caravan back on the road. However, before addressing the changing process, it's important to talk about checking your tyres for issues to prevent any surprise problems for coming your way.
Checking Your Caravan Tyres
How Often Should You Check Your Caravan Tyres?
Checking your tyre health and pressure is an essential part of owning any vehicle and caravans are no different. However, unlike most cars, caravan tyres are often placed under significantly more pressure than other vehicles and can also be left stationary for months at a time. Together, these factors can lead to increased risk of punctures or blowouts if your caravan tyres aren't checked properly.
With these thoughts in mind, here are the best practices on how often to check your caravan tyres based on usage.
- If in use, check your caravan tyres every couple of weeks - tyres are designed to operate effectively at a very specific pressure, which can quickly alter with just a couple of weeks of use.
- If your caravan has been left stationary for over a month, always check tyre status before starting your journey - when left stationery, your caravan's weight is on a very specific area of the tyre for a long period of time. This prolonged period of pressure results in a single portion of the tyre becoming weaker than the rest, potentially leading to blowouts.
What to Look for When Checking Caravan Tyres
There are a few key signs to search for when examining your tyres:
- Tyre pressure - all tyres have an optimal tyre pressure which improves road performance, reduces the risk of punctures and helps maintain tyre health. The manufacturer's recommended tyre pressure is usually stored on a plate or sticker attached to the caravan, or if this is missing, in the operating manual. This is essential as over-inflation can lead to premature wear-and-tear, whilst under-inflation can lead to overheating and blowouts; this is on top of the reduced road performance and increased fuel usage.
- Visible damage - tyres are also prone to physical damage after prolonged use. Make sure to check for cracks, cuts and embedded materials which might show signs of weakness or puncture threat.
- Temperature - generally, you should only check tyre status and pressure when the tyres are unused and ‘cold'; however, temperature can also be a threat to tyre health. If you have stopped to do a tyre check and find your tyres especially hot, consider taking a break to allow them to cool down. This is important because increased tyre temperature can increase the air pressure within the tyre too, making it more susceptible to blowouts.
- Tread - tyre tread is important from a grip perspective, especially during wet days where the grooves channel the water out from beneath the wheel. Each country has its own tread depth rules and regulations, so use this as a guideline to identify when your tread wear is becoming a safety concern.
- Tyre valves - finally, always keep an eye on valve status and damage. Leaking valves can be incredibly frustrating when on the road, so always check for escaping air or damage to the seal.
Changing Your Caravan Tyres
When to Change Your Caravan Tyres?
Having identified exactly what to look out for when checking your caravan tyres, it's now time to talk about changing them. There is a range of different situations that might make you think to make a caravan tyre change, each offering a different threat. The most important point to keep in mind is that safety is paramount so if you identify a suspected safety concern, it's always best to change the wheel on your caravan rather than continue on and see how it goes.
Here are some major indicators that it's time to change your caravan tyre:
- Age - all tyres become weak and unreliable over time. If you know that your tyres are at least 5 years old, you should change them before making another journey, irrespective of how they look or feel.
- Tread - a heavily worn tread reduces grip and turns your caravan into a road hazard. Check the legal minimum tread depth of your region and use this as a guide to decide whether your caravan tyre is worthy of changing. As a general rule, if you think it looks worn, there is a good chance that it should be replaced.
- Visible Defects - if your tyre has serious visible damage like blisters, ruptures or objects penetrated too deep to remove, this can result in puncture risks and unreliability on the road. It's a danger, so changing the tyre is the best step to take.
How to Change Your Caravan Tyres
Finally, we come to how to actually change your caravan tyres:
- Pull over. Make sure you are a safe distance away from traffic and the side-verge keeping in mind which tyre needs changing. Turn your hazards on and if you have a warning triangle, place it in view of passing traffic.
- Ensure your car's handbrake and your caravan parking brake are both on. Guarantee the caravan won't move by adding wheel chocks for added safety. Do not unhitch your caravan.
- Grab your tools - jack, wrench and wheel brace. These are essentials for caravan maintenance.
- If the weather is poor, or there are lots of heavy lorries passing, using an axle stand will steady the caravan as you work.
- Never use your corner steadies whilst changing a tyre.
- Locate your jack lifting point - this can be found in your caravan handbook. Please note: this can be up to four inches lower when you have a flat tyre. If you are on soft ground, you may need to place a support board underneath, again adjusting the height. Does your caravan need levelling before you start? Use levelling blocks and boards to make sure the caravan is steady throughout.
- Check your spare wheel is usable - is it inflated to the right pressure?
- Now you are ready to begin. Remove the wheel trim/cover and loosen all of the wheel nuts with the brace. You might need to raise the caravan slightly to do this.
- Jack the caravan up until it is sufficiently clear of the floor.
- Remove all of the nuts.
- Remove the wheel and replace with the spare.
- Replace the nuts, tightening as much as necessary.
- Lower the caravan.
- Tighten the nuts to the correct torque. Any more than this could damage the threads.
- Remove all the safety precautions and get back on the road!
That's all there is to it.
Now that you're well versed in caravan tyre maintenance, the next step is to start exploring. If you are looking for a new destination worth visiting on your next caravan road trip, be sure to check out our range of quaint and enticing touring parks or for more information, don't hesitate to get in touch.